Since it’s that time for being all grateful and stuff, I’ve got a few nuggets of thankfulness over here.
I’ve been blogging for about a year. Technically, I began last July, but things started rolling just over a year ago. When I began, I knew a few women from ICAN but I’d never gone to any meetings. I saw the Lamaze name and I thought of institutional co-optation of a method of keeping women quiet and controlled in labor. And the Lamaze giraffe toy that my kids loved. The Coalition for the Improvement of Maternity Services looked interesting but what if they were a group of people and organizations that view a woman as Mother above all else?
I proceeded cautiously, not because I was worried about not being accepted but because I was trying to find a home for my advocacy, my story and my energy. It wasn’t until I actually met a lot of people, both in person and via e-mails and such, that I was able to feel really good about community. The right to informed consent and informed refusal have been the core of most of the advocacy, as has encouraging women to put the burden of proof back on ones doctor or midwife to provide the best evidence possible behind their recommendations of a course of action.
ICAN is comprised of some of the most dedicated advocates I’ve ever met, personally holding the hands of women all over the world who are feeling too tired to fight alone for their right to just. give. birth. CIMS is amazing. Lamaze is not my mother’s Lamaze. I keep meeting people who really care about women not being coerced into unnecessary surgeries and procedures through deceitful tactics which cannot ever be ethically justified by the poor-us-we-can’t-change-our-practice-because-we’re-so-afraid-of-getting-sued mentality.
Discussing ideals, challenging cultural scripts and weighing epidemiological data and research against consumer demand all come into play at some point, but the bottom line is that most of the people with whom I’ve connected are dedicated to informing women of their rights as a pregnant or laboring woman (or new mom), encouraging them to speak up, QUESTION and investigate the information they are receiving about their health and make decisions about which they feel good. Naturally, this effort is a call for a new level of accountability for care providers, mostly obstetricians, and many of them… well, they don’t like it so much.
I’ll never forget watching a friend of mine hold one of my babies while I got a plate of food at a party. She is always, always holding a baby at social functions. I said to her, “You sure like babies” and she said, “Yeah, but I really like mothers.” It hadn’t even clicked that she wasn’t holding or wearing our babies around just because she wanted to snuggle a bunch of cute kids.
I’m thankful for all of these motherlovers I’ve met over the last year. The kind that care about and support other women who are also mothers or mothers-to-be, not the kind that only respect the ideal Mother and like to let other women know that Mother has the weight of the world on her shoulders, that her every move should be scrutinized for the future of humanity and the psychological health of her child is entirely dependent upon her staying in line with the Ideal. Sure, mothering and parenting is important—really important—but we’re people, too.
A few motherloving words that come to mind:
Happy Thanksgiving. Or if you’re not American, have a lovely Thursday.